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April 16, 2007 - Image 4

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The Michigan Daily, 2007-04-16

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4A - Monday, April 16, 2007

OPINION

The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com 0

Edited and managed by students at
the University of Michigan since 1890.

413 E. Huron St.
Ann Arbor, MI 48104
tothedaily@umich.edu

NOTABLE QUOTABLE
To the US War Leaders, Don Imus represented
the most serious threat ... to expose the truths
behind the events of September 11, 2001 and
the Iraq/Afghanistan wars."
- A news story in the Russian newspaper Pravda dated April 13, 2007, laying out the conspiracy the paper
believes lies behind the firing of radio host Don Imus.
JOHN OQUIST LIVE ON YOUR FEET

I

KARL STAMPFL
EDITOR IN CHIEF

IMRAN SYED
EDITORIAL PAGE EDITOR

JEFFREY BLOOMER
MANAGING EDITOR

Unsigned editorials reflect the official position of the Daily's editorial board. All other signed articles
and illustrations represent solely the views of their authors.
FROM THE DAILY
What are they smoking?
State's marijuana laws counterproductive and dangerous

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SO HE SAYS, I CAN'T GO OUT
TONIGHT, I HAVE HOMEWORK
TO DO." WHAT A LOSERIII

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Every April, the Diag is filled with students, activists and
creepy old people who gather at Hash Bash to voice their
opposition to the prohibition of pot. But for 33 years, the
state of Michigan has refused to budge; adamant in its half-baked
reasoning for strict enforcement of unnecessary laws. And with
word of the absolutely unwieldy bong ban recently enacted, it's
time for the state to stop and consider exactly how little sense its
marijuana laws make.

6

,1"~' ai t1s~PM/

Forecasting the future

In 1966, a man named John Sinclair was
arrested for sellingtwo marijuana cigarettes
to an undercover police officer. The law was
even stricter then, and Sinclair was sen-
tenced to nine years in prison. In 1971, John
Lennon, Yoko Ono, Stevie Wonder and other
artists performed a now infamous concert
at Crisler Arena as a benefit to free Sinclair.
Finally, the higher courts ruled that Michi-
gan's marijuana laws were unconstitutional
and Sinclair's conviction was overturned.
Since then, Michigan has passed more
lenient legislation and Ann Arbor has enact-
ed even more lenient legislation on marijua-
na in recent years. But that begs the question
of why have this law at all? It's time to get
past the politics on this issue and use logic. If
marijuana were truly dangerous, then surely
it is irresponsible of the city of Ann Arbor to
levy a mere $25 fine? And why does the state
jump all over marijuana while allowing the
sale of tobacco, America's leading cause of
preventable death?
The state recently passed a law outlawing
any props that could be used to smoke mar-
ijuana; stores are only permitted to sell par-

aphernalia that can only be use for tobacco
products. The law is hypocritical in the
senseless barrier it tries to create between
cigarette and marijuana smoking. It leaves
police so much room for interpretation that
you could theoretically have seen the last of
apples, Italian loafs, juice bottles and loose-
leaf paper.
The criminalization of marijuana has
done more harm that its legalization ever
could, even if the drug really is as bad as leg-
islators want us to believe. Banning some-
thing doesn't make it disappear. All the laws
have done is create a lucrative and danger-
ous black market. It's entirely conceivable
that the number of marijuana-related deaths
would actually go down after legalization
because the underworld crime aspect of its
current distribution would no longer exist.
If marijuana is a dirty drug, people can
choose not to use it. Most people, in fact,
will choose that option and pot won't be a
concern of theirs anymore. Considering the
600,000-plus arrests made in 2005 for vio-
lent crimes linked to the marijuana black
market, that will be a welcome change.

Because this will be my last col-
umn as an opinion columnist
for The Michigan Daily, I want
to use this space to predict what I see
in store for America over our lifetimes
if we continue to fail to unite to solve
problems. Without further adieu, Nos-
traStiggus predicts:
Unless parents
realize it is their
obligation to rear
their children to be
upstanding healthy
citizens and unless
they check the
growing authority
school officials have JOHN
over their children's STIGLICH
diets, government
will gladly step in and take over paren-
tal duties. Public school cafeterias will
transform into tofu bars where chil-
dren who want a simple hamburger
will be out of luck.
Kids with sack lunches will have to
hand them over to school health offi-
cials for inspection so that the officials
can ensure a healthy lifestyle. Selling
candy to raise money for school athlet-
ics? I hope fresh fruit sells well door-
to-door because that will be the best
case scenario for those looking to fill a
sugar fix for a good cause.
Unless we eliminate political cor-
rectness as a barrier to open dialogue
about race relations, white Americans
will continue to be scrutinized much
more than black Americans. Take the
recent situation involving shock jock
Don Imus. Imus called the members
of the Rutgers women's basketball
team "nappy-headed hos" in a foolish
attempt to compliment them for good
team defense.
Now, if Imus were a black rapper,
is there any doubt that a lyric of his
including that phrase would not only

receive less scrutiny but probably have
little impact on his sales? Don't get me
wrong, Iam notdefendingImus's inap-
propriate comments, but I am calling
for an elimination of double standards.
Black Americans must follow Oprah's
example and demand more account-
ability from the artists who claim to
represent the views oftheir community
before they criticize white Americans
for comments that would be permis-
sible in a more "artistic" setting.
Furthermore,the mainstreammedia
should get over its fear ofbeingtoo crit-
ical of the leaders of the black commu-
nity and start criticizing Al Sharpton
and Jesse Jackson when they play on
racial fears to demonize white males
without proper evidence (the Duke
Lacrosse case, for example). As Imus
rightly pointed out, we're still waiting
to hear an apology from Sharpton and
Jackson on that one. That's as likely to
happen as Ralph Nader being elected
president.
Unless we demand the media play
a lesser role in the nomination and
election of our presidents and give the
political parties more control over their
presidential nominees, we will con-
tinue to have a choice only between
the two candidates who managed to
look the least scuffed for TV cameras.
If we demanded a presidential contest
between -the most experienced, well-
versed in policy candidates from both
political parties, the 2008 election
wouldcome down to Sen. Joe Biden (D-
Del) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).
But that match-up will never hap-
pen because Biden called Sen. Barack
Obama (D-Ill.) "clean and articu-
late" and John McCain looks old and
splotchy on television. It is time for us
to prepare for another president from
outside Washington who will have no
clue on how to handle the establish-

ment orto run the office he seeks.
Finally, unless we demand that the
scientific community follow the stan-
dards setforthbythe scientific method,
we will continue to fall hook, line and
sinker for the myth that is man-made
global warming. We need to ask these
scientists and the politicians that fund
them to explain a few of their logical
inconsistencies.
For example, how do we know that
the current temperature is too warm
and inneed ofcooling?After all, athou-
sand years ago Greenland used to be
fertile farmland; now it's a sheet of ice.
Why are we targeting carbon emissions
when methane is proven to be far more
The joys and
pains of a campus
conservative.
damaging? Could targeting carbon
have anything to do with liberal hate of
the carbon producing oil and automo-
bile industries and love of farmers who
raise methane producing cattle? And
what do they plan to do about volca-
noes, which contribute more to global
warming than man-made activities? Is
it so illogical to target them first?
In closing, I want to thank all the
readers who have taken an interest in
my writing over the past two years.
We have not always agreed, but most
of you have been able to disagree with
me civilly, and I appreciate that. It is
not easy being a conservative in Ann
Arbor, but at times I've found that it
can be enjoyable.
John Stiglich can be reached
at jcsgolf@umich.edu.

4

Editorial Board Members: Emily Beam, Kevin Bunkley, Amanda Burns, Sam Butler,
Ben Caleca, Mike Eber, Brian Flaherty, Mara Gay, Jared Goldberg, Emmarie Huetteman,
Toby Mitchell, David Russell, John Stiglich, Jennifer Sussex, Neil Tambe,
Radhika Upadhyaya, Rachel Wagner, Christopher Zbrozek
EDITOR'S NOTE
Preventing plagiarism

0

After the troubling discovery in February
that an arts writer had plagiarized in several
articles, Michigan Daily editors intensified our
efforts to prevent plagiarism. First, we formed
a committee to explore how to do so. The com-
mittee presented twice at our weekly meeting
of top editors, and together we agreed on sev-
eral steps to make the act less likely.
The first is putting the onus of making sure
the staff is doing its best to prevent plagiarism
on the paper's managing editor. -He will be
responsible for ensuring that new staff mem-
bers read the Daily's bylaws and understand
how unacceptable plagiarism is. Potential
writers, photographers, editors and design-
ers will be required to sign an agreement that
they have read the bylaws and will not plagia-
rize before they are allowed to join the staff.

The lists will be maintained by each section's
managing editor. The paper's managing edi-
tor will also ensure that each section car-
ries out spot checks for plagiarism. This will
serve as a deterrent and help foster a culture
in which the act is constantly discouraged.
Lastly, we are amping up our training
programs so new staff members will feel a
reduced need to keep up by plagiarizing.
Although plagiarism is not completely
preventable, the Daily has a responsibility
to make it as unlikely to happen as possible.
We're committed to that ideal.
- Karl Stampfl
Editor in chief

PERRY TEICHER I VIEWPOINT
Work to end genocide now

0

RACHEL WAGNER I VIEWPOINT
Plastic problems

I like to consider myself at least marginally
environmentally conscious. I try not to leave
my laptop and phone plugged in indefinitely,
and I have plans to pick up the new energy effi-
cient compact fluorescent light bulbs. The more
I become aware of switching off lights when
leaving a room or remembering to turn off
my printer, the more aware and guiltier I feel
about the useless, environmentally unfriendly
cabinet full of plastic grocery bags my room-
mates and I have stashed in our kitchen.
The Bush Administration's delay in accept-
ing the facts about global warming has put
America behind the pack on environmental
problems and progress. While waiting for
significant change on issues like carbon emis-
sions and alternative energy, regular citizens
can start adopting greener ways of life. This
doesn't mean never driving a car or becoming
a vegan - I'm not quite ready to let go of cars
or meat just yet either. Instead, it means being
conscious of the often overlooked aspects of
daily living that have a large impact on nature.
This is where plastic bags enter the scene.
Everyyear, 500billion to 1 trillion petroleum-
based plastic bags are consumed globally. Amer-
ica uses 100 billion plastic bags annually and
Meijer alone goes through 30 million bags per
month. Aside from using up increasingly valu-
able natural resources like petroleum, plastic
bags create large amounts of litter, harm wild-
life and contribute to waste from landfills.
Specifically, plastic bags kill about 100,000
marine animals worldwide while ranking as the
fifth most common item of beach debris. Plastic
bags don't biodegrade either and instead break
down into smaller toxic pieces, which contami-
nate soil and waterways. It's just not possible to
justify these harmful environmental effects for
a bag most people will only use once.
Studying in Ireland last summer showed
me how life would be without plastic bags. In
2002, the Irish government introduced a con-

sumption tax (the PlasTax) of 20 cents on plas-
tic bags. Revealing my obviously American
side, I was at first shocked and annoyed that
my beloved and previously free plastic bags
now came at a price. How was I possibly going
to carry my food back home?
My options were to pay for the bags, pay for
a reusable cloth bag sold at the register or use
my backpack. As a student trying to stick to a
budget, I shoved my groceries in my backpack
and walked home. Surprisingly enough, it
wasn't that bad. In fact, I liked walking instead
of driving and not being saddled down with 14
overloaded plastic bags. I gradually became a
convert to the cloth bag lifestyle. So have the
Irish. Since 2002, their plastic bag use has fall-
en more than 90 percent, and the government
has raised millions of dollars to put toward
recycling programs.
Now America is tryingto tackle its ownplas-
tic problems. San Francisco recently banned
petroleum-based plastic bags atgrocery stores
and pharmacies, and Ann Arbor looks to be
gearing up to be next. While some cities aren't
ready to ban plastic bags, other options like
credit on reused bags, bagtaxes and plastic bag
recycling programs are also being discussed.
In fact, Meijer will offer a "99-cent reusable
nonwoven plastic bag made of recyclable
polypropylene" by June. A mouthful, yes, but
worth the price.
As expected, the taxes and bans have raised
considerable opposition, and some people may
have a hard time letting go of the time-honored
tradition of leaving the grocery store with two
fistfulsofplastic bags. For me thoughthe appeal
of the plastic bag is long gone. I think I'll start
putting myIrish canvas grocery bag to use.
How appropriate that I learned to go green
on the Emerald Isle.
Rachel Wagner is an LSA junior and a
member of the Daily's editorial board.

Why should you care about geno-
cide in faraway lands? You've seen
and ignored the viewpoints and
the articles. You've watched "Hotel
Rwanda," and think you probably
would have done something if you
could have. You may even have been
overwhelmed by staring hopelessly
at picture after picture of dead chil-
dren and distraught mothers. Even
though popular culture has picked
up the fad to save Darfur, progress is
slow and hope is dying.
While the conflict itself is unde-
niably complicated, the results are
perfectly clear: Innocent people are
being murdered. Instead of simply
weeping inside, we can save lives. As
you may have read and seen by now,
Will Work For Food is a twofold stu-
dent activist movement.
How can you get involved? Visit
our tables in the residence halls this
week. Fill out a postcard to your con-
gressman about the genocide. Buy a
shirt. Pledge to work one hour. Tell
your friends to do the same. If, you
have already sent a post card, make
a phone call. Visit www.willworkfor-
food.org for more information.
Growing up Jewish in America,
the lessons of the Holocaust were
continuously drilled into me and
our responsibility as a united soci-
ety to prevent another genocide is

engrained in my mind. Until I stood
where this slaughter occurred, how-
ever, the words did not reverberate
the same way. Standing on the edge
of the valley of Babi Yar and on the
site of Dachau, phrases could do no
justice to my emotions.
The scale of tragedy and the
immensity of lives lost and destroyed
dreams can never be fully under-
stood. What may be worse is that
the world stood idly by while the
atrocities in the Nazi death camps
happened. I hope that 50 years from
now Darfur is not remembered inthe
same way.
Genocide isoccurringinDarfur and
we each have a responsibility to stand
up and take action. We must provide
tangible reliefto the suffering. By rais-
ing money to help provide food, water,
shelter and infrastructure to those
living in refugee camps, we can each
be responsible for saving lives.Yet rec-
ognizing that raising funds alone will
not stop the ongoing genocide, politi-
cal and public advocacy is also a vital
component of the fight.
As the leaders and the best, we
must set the example for the nation.
While the distance between Darfur
and Michigan is great, our commit-
ment to change and our responsibil-
ity to social justice necessitates our
response to this tragedy.

Jewish traditionteaches that sav-
ing the life of one person is like saving
the world. This message, especially
in regard to Darfur, has never been
isolated to the Jewish community.
On an internationalscale, individuals
and organizations of many religious,
ethnic and national backgrounds
have joined together to save that
one life. On campus, we now have an
opportunity to work as a community
to save those who are suffering and
fight the hatred that is at the root of
this evil.
After the Holocaust, the world
adopted the phrase "never again."
Never again would we stand idly by
while innocent people suffered. The
phrase resurfaced after the Rwan-
dan genocide. Those outraged at
inaction over Srebrenica again yelled
it out. Do we want to have to mutter
it under our breath and feel embar-
rassed that we did nothing after
these current events again retreat
from the public view?
Rather than standing over an even
larger mass grave amid the sandy
expanse and vowing never again, let
us live up to our commitment to help
those victims of genocide rightnow.
Perry Teicher is an [SA senior and
the former chair of the University's
Hillel Governing Board.

I

LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Engineering students
must get over themselves
TO THE DAILY:
I was in full support of Friday's
letter to the editor about the Daily's
coverage of cheating in the engi-
neering school (LSA Kids at Daily
jealous of engineers 04/13/2007),
until I got to this sentence: "The
College of Engineering is founded
on the premise that our students are
smarter than the students in LSA."
I'm not sure where the author is get-
ting this idea. I would love to seethis
reflected somewhere else besides
the minds of him and some "more
experienced engineers."

SEND LETTERS TO: TOTHEDAILY@UMICH.EDU

I am not denying that some LSA students look incompetent. But to
classes are extremely easy, or that link this to a lack of intelligence in
engineering is a difficult field. But LSA students is insulting. I would
does the letter writer really believe rather take my "easy" linguistics
that LSA students are in this college classes than be a "smart," patroniz-
because we aren't smart enough to ing engineer any day.
be engineers? Does "smart" really
only apply to knowledge about math Sarah Mullins
and science? Could he ace an upper- LSA sophomore
level history class?
This kind of attitude does nothing Wrte fOr Daily 3p neon
to help the stereotypical ideas sur-
rounding the two colleges, and does this SUMmer,
a disservice to other engineers who Columnist spots aalable.
know there is not only one criteria
for intelligence.
The Daily's news story and edito- to beym AnAbdr.)
rial about cheating in the engineer- E-mil editp6ge.
ing school were problematic at best,
and unfairly made the "cheating" edrorsumfi~du,

4

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